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Nationwide genetic testing towards eliminating Lafora Disease from Miniature Wirehaired Dachshunds

A paper has been published in the Canine Genetics and Epidemiology Journal summarising the results of Lafora Screening. Here's the Abstract:


Canine DNA-testing has become an important tool in purebred dog breeding and many breeders use genetic testing results when planning their breeding strategies. In addition, information obtained from testing of hundreds dogs in one breed gives valuable information about the breed-wide genotype frequency of disease associated allele. Lafora disease is a late onset, recessively inherited genetic disease which is diagnosed in Miniature Wirehaired Dachshunds (MWHD). It is one of the most severe forms of canine epilepsy leading to neurodegeneration and, frequently euthanasia within a few years of diagnosis. Canine Lafora disease is caused by a dodecamer repeat expansion mutation in the NHLRC1 gene and a DNA test is available to identify homozygous dogs at risk, carriers and dogs free of the mutation.


Blood samples were collected from 733 MWHDs worldwide, mostly of UK origin, for canine Lafora disease testing. Among the tested MWHD population 7.0% were homozygous for the mutation and at risk for Lafora disease. In addition, 234 dogs were heterozygous, indicating a carrier frequency of 31.9% in the tested population. Among the tested MWHDs, the mutant allele frequency was 0.2. In addition, data from the tested dogs over 6 years (2012–2017) indicated that the frequency of the homozygous and carrier dogs has decreased from 10.4% to 2.7% and 41.5% to 25.7%, respectively among MWHDs tested. As a consequence, the frequency of dogs free of the mutation has increased from 48.1% to 71.6%.


This study provides valuable data for the MWHD community and shows that the DNA test is a useful tool for the breeders to prevent occurrence of Lafora disease in MWHDs. DNA testing has, over 6 years, helped to decrease the frequency of carriers and dogs at risk. Additionally, the DNA test can continue to be used to slowly eradicate the disease-causing mutation in the breed. However, this should be done carefully, over time, to avoid further compromising the genetic diversity of the breed. The DNA test also provides a diagnostic tool for veterinarians if they are presented with a dog that shows clinical signs associated with canine Lafora disease.

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